City & Village — Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) Tells Stories of Discovering Cultural Heritage in Chinese Architecture at Frankfurt Book Fair

[Source]    Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) [Time]    2018-10-19 13:02:05 

From October 10 to 15, 2018, Hanban held the special cultural exhibition named “City & Village —Discovering Cultural Heritage in Chinese Architecture” at the exhibition area called “Arts+” in the Frankfurt Book Fair to showcase the changes and development of China’s urban and rural areas, express the Chinese people’s cognition of and reflection on their own cultural heritage, and discover Chinese cultural heritage in Chinese architecture.

A poster of the “City & Village —Discovering Cultural Heritage in Chinese Architecture”

The exhibition was planned and organized under the cooperation of Hanban, the government of Songyang County, Beijing DnA Design and Architecture, School of Architecture and Urban Planning of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and the German Aedes Architecture Forum.

Paying Attention to Inheriting Cultural Heritage by Focusing on Architecture

On October 12th, local time, in front of the booth of Hanban, over 100 representatives from more than 50 publishing agencies and exhibitors of the “Arts+” exhibition area participated in the reception of the exhibition.

Jing Wei, Deputy Chief Executive of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, introduced the original intention of holding this exhibition in her welcome speech. She said that since 2016, Hanban has launched the Chinese cultural themed exhibitions at the Frankfurt Book Fair featuring children’s picture books and food culture. This stimulated the network of Confucius Institutes around the world to carry out an exhibition tour project, thus giving full play to Confucius Institutes as platforms for promoting educational and cultural cooperation and exchanges.

Welcome speech by Ms. Jing Wei, Deputy Director-General of Hanban

Architecture, a precious cultural heritage of a country, records time in the form of space. The significance of historical and cultural heritage covers every aspects of contemporary life. How to regard architectural heritage and continue its vitality remains an important issue in China, a fast-growing country, and also a question that is constantly being explored by countries all over the world. This year, the exhibition featuring architectural cultural heritage is aimed at combining two dimensions, namely, “Chinese architecture” and “cultural heritage” by fully tapping into two cases named “one city” (Wuhan —City Sitting beside Yangtze River) and “one village” (Songyang Story — Rural Moves). From the perspective of city and village, this exhibition would show to the world the changes and development of Chinese architectural culture from traditional style to modern style, from rural architecture to urban architecture, and also the cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries in the process. As a result, this exhibition would express the Chinese people’s thinking about their own architectural cultural heritage, and showcase China’s innovative experience in preserving cultural heritage through architecture.

Hans-Jürgen Commerell, Chairman of the German Aedes Architecture Forum, Eduard Kögel, a Chinese architectural culture expert, Beatrice, a representative of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Tan Gangyi, a professor of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and Xu Tiantian, a young architect, attended the reception and delivered speeches respectively. They all expressed their gratitude and compliments to Hanban for planning this project.

An Village and a City Show Changes of Chinese Society

The 100-square-meter booth is divided into two exhibition areas with one for city and another for village. The area for showing Songyang story exhibited how a rural area in Zhejiang Province with hundreds of ancient villages boasting 1800 years of history, through adhering to the principle of “minimum intervention”, protected traditional old houses from being demolished, and reserved as well as upgraded the interior spaces of those houses to attract more young people to come back to this area and start their businesses. As a result, the cohesiveness of people living in this area has been enhanced.

The area for the exhibition named “Wuhan —City Sitting beside Yangtze River”, by showing “one towel” (Yellow Crane Tower), expressed the philosophical thoughts of the integration of nature and man in the Chinese architectural tradition, the aesthetic character of peace and harmony, as well as the unique and exquisite architectural wisdom. This area exhibited the development of cultures by showing the restored images of “One City” (Ancient Wuchang City). By showing the “Two Rivers” (photographs of life along the Yangtze River and Han River), this exhibition area also vividly showed the life of people living in this city sitting beside the Yangtze River in the past 100 years, and the urban spirit of inclusiveness and openness resulted from the integration of Chinese and Western culture.

The visitors in the area for exhibition named Wuhan —City Sitting beside Yangtze River

Connecting Communication between Ancient and Modern China as well as China and Other Countries through Space and Time

The exhibition with various forms and exquisite designs featured carpenter’s sink marker (elastic strings), a gadget integrating the spirit of ancient wisdom, as the main designing element. In the exhibition, there were models, large-scale pictures, videos, architecture themed book collections, as well as comprehensive displays supported by digital and artistic techniques such as interactive multimedia touch screens, virtual reality, video recording, picture drawing, performance art images and so on.

The student team of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology created a time-space tour named “Going to 1911 Wuchang city with the digital virtual technology”. With the digital technology featuring human-computer interaction, they also displayed the postcards of Wuhan in around 1920 collected by the postcard collector Fan Wei.

The exhibition booth included an area for a cultural heritage handicraft workshop where the audience could experience how to make the mortise and tenon, a gadget filled with traditional Chinese wisdom, and learn to make tea tie-dye works and Vatan printing with traditional Chinese techniques. The Hanban booth presented exciting events on a daily basis.

Forum Named the “City and/or Village? Songyang Tells You a Different Story”

On the Art+Runway platform of the Frankfurt Book Fair, two forums on the theme of Wuhan and Songyang were held. Deputy Director-General Jing Wei, Eduard Kögel, Hans-Jürgen Commerell and Xu Tiantian engaged in a conversation under the topic of “City and/or Village? Songyang Tells You a Different Story”. During the conversation, by sharing Songyang stories, they explored the interaction between urban and rural areas, the importance of rural development and poverty alleviation, as well as the significance of China’s innovation in rural revitalization to the world.

Professor Tan Gangyi talked with Ackermann, Senior Consultant of Hanban, during which, with the title of “Wuhan — A City in Past and Today”, he discussed the practice and strategy of China’s architectural heritage protection and the reconstruction idea with Chinese characteristics by taking one city as an example.

The exhibition attracted a constant stream of visitors to the booth on a daily basis. Many visitors and experts have expressed their admiration for the exhibition and have gained a more comprehensive understanding of China, so that they really wanted to visit this city and village in China.

Eduard Kögel, a well-known Chinese architecture expert in Europe, has highly praised this exhibition as an exhibition planner of many Chinese architecture themed exhibitions. He said it was not easy to concentrate in such a small booth an exhibition containing such a huge amount of information, and the visitors needed more time to fully enjoy and understand this very interactive exhibition.

The audience listening carefully to Songyang’s story

Oliver, a novelist said his overall impression of the exhibition was that it was in line with the aesthetic and cognitive habits and needs of the targeted visitors. In the exhibition the color of red and pictures of dragon were nowhere to be found, but visitors could see a different China, which made it an exhibition well received by visitors.

Lin Zaijue, a well-known publisher in Taiwan, spoke highly of this collection of architectural books, and thought that this collection included the latest architecture books which were of high quality and representativeness.

Herman Spruijt, former President of the International Publishers Association, was attracted by and amazed at the tea tie-dye in the Songyang handicraft workshop. When he heard story of the Songyang which were about how architecture had changed the village, he praised the profound social significance of the exhibition.

Children experiencing the Vatan printing

Some visitors said that they wanted to go to Songyang and Wuhan for sightseeing. Some visitors said that they had watched three exhibitions held by Hanban, and they went to the previous picture book exhibition and food exhibition with their friends, some of whom even began to study at the Confucius Institute after that. The exhibition also attracted the attention of and was widely covered by many media outlets such as China News Service, Guangming Daily, People’s Daily, China Publishing and Media Journal and the German publishing journal.

Visitors showing their works of DIY tea tie-dye

At present, a number of Confucius Institutes and overseas cultural institutions have invited Hanban to conduct world exhibition tour. At the same time, Hanban also planned to launch a series of cultural heritage-related projects.